And what we can do to be informed whilst being sustainable
In recent years, I and many other consumers have been questioning whether we are doing our best to not shop with fast fashion brands whilst keeping the thought of not wanting to leave a bad carbon footprint behind. This article will touch on the ethics of fast fashion and how best consumers can shop sustainably whilst being responsible.
First, we will need to understand the problem around fast fashion and how the ethics around the fashion industry takes advantage of their garment workers. Each year, more than 100 billion garments are made and around $450 billion worth of textiles are thrown away around the world.
"The United Kingdom alone produces 206.456 tonnes of textile waste in a year. 0.8 kg are incinerated yearly per person and 1.7 kg are disposed of in landfills."
How do garments affect the environment?
Being that there are a lot of chemicals that go into making clothes, there is a lot of the by products of these garment processes being dumped directly into the rivers by these garment factories. Not only is this extra harmful to aquatic life in these rivers, but it also affects communities around these rivers, especially those who are working in these factories, as that will be their main source of water when working.
This is unfortunately inevitable as these garment processes create a lot of greenhouse gases due to the energy used during the production, manufacturing, and transportation of the millions of garments purchased each year.
But you may be asking, what are the ethics around this?
As we know, the fast fashion industry makes a lot of garments which some inevitably go to waste as trends die down, but we don’t really talk about those who are behind the labour of these garments.
In a lot of these garment factories the conditions that workers are subjected to are horrific with them receiving poverty pay ($96 dollars a month in Bangladesh), long working hours and denial of trade union rights which has significant risks to workers health and safety with the heavy machinery they use in these unsafe factories.
How do we as consumers take part in fast fashion?
I would like to ask you to recognise your spending habits when it comes to garments you buy. During the year 2020, did you notice your increased spending on garments due to trends you saw on social media? Or did you buy your garments with the hopes of leaving the lockdown looking fabulous?
These are questions we must ask ourselves when it comes to deciding whether to put our money in the hands of brands that partake in fast fashion. And I get it, when it comes to buying fast fashion we tend to get caught up in the prices and how you’re able to find a garment that you love at such a lower price compared to the high-end version that is definitely out of your price range.
But that’s the thing, we as the consumers are meant to be swayed by these prices but in reality these cheaply made garments are not meant to last, and it would only cause us to keep ourselves in a buying loop rather than investing in pieces that would last longer.
So how do we as consumers buy responsibly whilst thinking sustainable?
To start this off this does not mean you should suddenly throw all your clothes away because of this article but here are ways you can start your journey as someone who wishes to be responsible in buying the right kind of clothes whilst treating the earth nice.
You will need to inform yourself on the fast fashion brands that already exist. Luckily, there are apps such as Good On You that show the ethical brand ratings for over 3,000 brands.
Donate the unwanted clothes. Yes, I mean the ones that have been hanging there for years collecting dust.
Look at the clothing you have now and ask yourself which ones are wearable throughout the seasons. These are garments that would last longer as you are able to wear them more than the clothing that are only meant for one season only.
Lastly, look after your clothes because they will look after you. Not everyone will be able to buy that expensive sustainable piece in their wardrobe, but looking after the clothes you have now is more than enough than having to replace garments every few months.
To end this article, know that this will be a journey, but it will be a fulfilling one in the end. Have a good day and remember to think sustainable with earth in mind.